“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
— Nelson Mandela

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Good morning, Valpo!

Today marks the beginning of a new academic year at Valparaiso University. We gather in this place because we are called to seek Truth, serve generously, and cultivate hope.

This idea of cultivating hope resonates deeply, perhaps even more so this year than in years past. Hope can be a powerful tool, particularly during difficult and polarizing times, as we confront the deep divides that face our nation and our world. Valparaiso University stands resolute in its commitment to live within and between the divides and to foster a community in which each member is valued.

Whether you are a returning student, faculty, or staff member or joining us on campus for the very first time, I hope you experience the excitement that comes with being part of a university community like Valpo on this first day of classes.

For those of you returning to campus, welcome back! Some of us remained on campus this summer, and we look forward to hearing about your experiences and adventures and sharing updates of what’s happened here at home.

This afternoon at Opening Convocation, I will share a few thoughts about the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity and how Valpo prepares students to persevere and become their most excellent selves. Then, the incoming class will receive the Shield of Character and sign the honor code: I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid. The honor code is a pledge that epitomizes living a life of integrity as members of the Valpo community. We hold ourselves and one other to a higher standard — one of honor, truth, and authenticity.

As the fall semester gains momentum, we soon will be busy with assignments, meetings, and events. In the midst of your busy schedules, I hope you will take time for quiet reflection, whether at 10 a.m. Morning Prayer in the Chapel of the Resurrection or during a break in between classes or meetings. Take time to reflect and allow room to become more focused and fulfilled.

May this coming year bring you all of God’s blessings.


Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.